God called Abram to follow Him by faith in Him, and He also promised that all who did the same would be fruitful and blessed. Although there are no explicit references to “fruit” in this passage (or until chapter 17, for that matter), each of the 5 times that the Lord had already declared someone or something as “blessed” was in the context of bearing fruit by resting in Him. (Genesis 1:22 and 28, 2:3, 5:2, and 9:1)
Now, in only two verses of Genesis 12:2-3, He declares His blessing another 5 times on Abram and others who would follow Him by faith all over the world. But notice some of the consistently peculiar ways that God blesses His people to be fruitful. These were themes before Abram’s time, but it becomes increasingly clear as the Lord is consistently odd with His people.
First the Lord calls impossible people: individuals who clearly can’t bear His fruit. Physically, Abram and Sarai were too old to have children, and later He gave them only two children – only one of which was the child of promise (Genesis 21:1-13 and Galatians 4:21ff). Why didn’t He call younger people who were more likely to have plenty of children easily? Because He wants us to know that our fruit has come from Him by His grace and not by our own works or any other merit. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, etc.)
The Lord also leads or allows His people to walk through impossible places: through dangers that could kill their fruit. Abram could have lost Sarai to Pharaoh (Genesis 12:15-20) and to Abimelek (Genesis 20:1-17). The Lord even worked through Abram’s lack of faith, not only to protect both of them but to bless them. Of course, that is not to say that God’s people can do whatever they want and still receive His blessings. God also loves His people through discipline to purify our hearts and our witness before others. (Hebrews 12:4-13) But God’s grace and mercy to Abram/Abraham does show that He is determined to use all things for the good of His people. (Romans 8:28-30)
To keep this article relatively short, I’ll only name one more way the Lord oddly blesses our fruitfulness: He puts His impossible people in those impossible places before the watching world. The Lord worked through Abram and his 318 men to rescue his nephew Lot and his family against four kings and their armies who had taken them captive. (Genesis 14)
And notice two very different results. In verses 18-24, Melchizedek (which means “king of righteousness”) blessed Abram and received a tenth of everything Abram had gained. But when the king of Sodom offered to pay Abram for his help, Abram refused to accept anything at all.
I won’t go into thoughts on who Melchizedek was, but we should note the difference in the two basic responses others had to Abram’s courageous faith in action. One honored the Lord with Abram, while the other sought to honor/protect/secure his own kingdom. The former was also cleared blessed by the Lord, the other was destroyed by the Lord in the very next chapter.
Here are a few concluding thoughts. First, the Lord’s call on you and me to bear fruit will often seem very strange because of our human impossibilities. Don’t lose heart. Remember that those are His deliberate opportunities to see even more clearly that only He is our hope to bear fruit for Him. Second, when you and I follow Christ by faith, we, too, should expect two opposite responses from others who witness us bearing fruit for the Lord. Lastly, these are not the exception to how God blesses His people, they’re the rule to show that He rules by His sovereign power and grace for our joy in His glory. For more on this, check out the article on A theme of Exodus: the God of the Impossible, the Insignificant, and the Undeserving.
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